The problem with soft drinks such as pop, also referred to as ‘soda’, is that it’s packed with sugar and empty calories. At the same time, its taste, fizz and energizing after-feeling often makes it hard to resist.
Luckily, Jessica Regan, former OrthoIndy clinical nutrition manager and dietitian, explains how to wean off pop gradually.
Why is soda bad for your health?
The healthfulness of soda depends on what type of soda it is. Regular soda contains high levels of added sugars that can have a negative impact on your weight and health.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to 36 grams a day for men and 25 grams a day for women. A 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 39 grams of added sugar, which alone is exceeding your recommended daily intake.
Consuming excess amounts of added sugar not only increases risk for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, but it can also increase risk for dental cavities.
How harmful are artificial sweeteners?
It’s a common mistake to think that drinking a diet soda is healthier than drinking a regular soda because it has little to no calories. However, some of the chemicals found in artificial sweeteners can lead to more serious and harmful side effects.
In some diet products, the label ‘sugar-free’ often masks the calories present in the drink. Always check the food label. Instead of turning to artificial sweeteners or sugar-free drinks, consider using honey or organic maple syrup to get your sugar fix.
What is a good substitute for pop?
There are a number of different beverages that you can drink to replace soda. Water is the best way to quench your thirst and stay well-hydrated. However, if you have been drinking soda on a regular basis, it may be difficult to transition to a beverage with little to no flavor.
One option for substituting soda products would be carbonated water. Carbonated water, or sparkling water, contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas which creates that familiar fizz that you taste in soda. You can also purchase carbonated water in a variety of different flavors and many of them are zero calories.
What happens when you quit drinking soda cold turkey?
Gradual changes will have a more lasting effect than quitting cold turkey. While some people may be able to quit drinking soda cold turkey, it may not be that simple for others.
First, try reducing your intake of soda. If you drink 10 cans per day, start by reducing your intake to six to eight cans per day and replacing those other two to four cans with water, carbonated water, zero-calorie flavored water, unsweetened tea or low-fat milk.
Once you feel comfortable, take it down to four to six cans per day and so on until you are able to quit completely. The less you drink soda, the less you will experience cravings for it, so it should get easier as you go.
How long after I stop drinking soda will I lose weight?
There are a number of different factors that contribute to how quickly someone loses weight. Genetics, health conditions, lifestyle habits, diet, physical activity, age and gender can all affect an individual’s weight and overall health.
When you decide it’s time to lose weight, it’s important not only to eat healthy but to exercise. Weight loss is associated with bone density loss. This is especially true as we grow older and we cut calories fast, but do not exercise. Be careful not to cut nutrients needed to maintain strong bones and stimulate bone growth such as calcium and Vitamin D.
The rate of weight loss depends on a lot of factors, but a general rule of thumb is to decrease intake by 250 calories per day for a half a pound of weight loss per week.
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